SoundAround prides itself on taking you to the places that matter and that giving you a deeper insight and connection to your favorite musicians. In fact, taking you to the right place is how we got started.
I am, Kristen Zschomler, chief historian and one of the founders of SoundAround – the first of its kind, music history tour app.
While SoundAround utilises modern technology to bring you new, unique ways to connect with the musicians you love in the places they made famous all over the globe, my background as a professional historian and archaeologist, couldn’t be further from technological.
My entire career has been focused on researching historically significant places and connecting people to them, whether archaeological sites, cultural landscapes or cool buildings.
But as you will note, SoundAround came together out of mine and my fellow founder, Sarah’s, passion for Prince.
It was after Prince’s death, that I noticed people posting on social media about their journey to Minneapolis and going to places like Prince’s childhood home.
The only problem was, I knew through my personal research that the place most people thought was Prince’s childhood home was not. It broke my heart as a historian and Prince lover that people were coming all the way to his hometown and were not getting to the right places.
Developed from years of research
Over the past seven years, and through considerable research, my work has corrected and clarified the geography of Prince in Minneapolis and the surrounding suburbs.
I found the correct locations of his childhood home, the Moon Sound Studio where Prince first met music producer Chris Moon, and where he recorded his seminal album, Dirty Mind (1980).
I have clarified the dates and times of his association with different places as part of a thorough and intensive research effort which documents his historic journey from Minneapolis’s Northside to Paisley Park.
One key difference in my approach, and that which we have adopted for our SoundAround Tours, is that I do not rely solely on other people’s work.
For some places, for example, in the case of Prince, such as his former home and studios, Paisley Park, or First Avenue – the club where the song Purple Rain was first performed and the location of many scenes in the film of the same name – no real research is needed because they are well known and still exist.
But for sites not widely known, finding primary sources to verify their location is critical. If I see reference to a Prince place or the dates he was associated with it in another work, I do not take it at face value. I conduct my own research to verify that the location is correct, based on my more than 30 years of experience. I rely on primary sources instead of just secondary ones to identify previous unrecorded places.
Integrity of sources
Primary sources are invaluable, but can have their issues. People’s memories can be faulty, selective, or subjective. Records can also be problematic, in that they can have errors in dates or spellings. That’s why I seek out multiple primary sources.
If multiple primary sources can’t be found, I will state there is a discrepancy, noting that X source says this, and Y source says that so as not to make a definitive decision. It’s not glamorous, but it is essential work.
It is this integrity of research and fact-finding that has made me one of the most respected music historians in Minnesota.
I have ensured Prince places have been listed in the National Register of Historic Places, am a founding member of the International Centre 4 Prince Studies, have presented at symposiums and the likes of Sound80 Studios, in Minneapolis on Prince’s legacy, and been interviewed for CBS television news and many more media outlets regarding my work and efforts to preserve places associated with Prince, The Minneapolis Sound, and music history in general. I have also led many tours of Minneapolis for groups and individuals.
SoundAround Tours are fun and interesting, and place your favorite artist in the broader context of the culture and society in which they developed.
We don’t put our citations and primary sources in the tour, because honestly, that would get quite boring to listen to! But if you ever want to know more about our original sources, you can contact us for additional information. Knowing what happens behind the scenes can give you the confidence that SoundAround will take you to the right place.
Unfortunately, my work has also been taken by others without citation, credit, and sometimes in flat-out plagiarism.
We encourage you to go with a source you can trust, the one that did the work, digging through archival files and interviewing people, and not going with information from people who copy and paste things they found on the internet.
So download our app when it launches in May 2023 and enjoy our tour experience knowing you are getting the best way to discover Prince’s Minneapolis and The Minneapolis Sound – because it’s often imitated, but never replicated.